So I did not get to ride today.  I sort of have mixed feelings about it, I want to ride all I can but I am sort of relieved that I won’t be struggling with Bobby today, but on the other hand there is the thought that maybe, just maybe, today would have been the wondrous day that Bobby finally decided to cooperate with me.  I know, that fantasy is highly unrealistic but, hey, I ride horses and I live in constant hope that THIS day will be the day we finally dance together!

Mick was not dancing on Thursday when I rode him.  I missed riding on Wednesday because of a day long uninterrupted drizzle, so the ring was sopping wet.  Mick had gotten a chiropractic adjustment last week just before the clinic Debbie had so his back was moving a little freer.  He seemed pretty pleased with the Cashel noseband cushions I had put on the Spirit bitless bridle, though he was a little less crisp with his responses.  I will probably have to increase the strength of my hand aids a little bit with him to make up for the extra cushioning.  Since his back was a little freer I did not have to use my legs as much, on Thursday I think Mick was working as hard as I was which was nice because I had been getting REALLY TIRED from riding him for just 30 minutes!  I had added some of the Ttouch tail work to the Ttouch circles down his neck, back, and croup before tacking up.  The first time I touched his tail he clamped it down but by working on it gradually I finally got him to relax his tail enough so I could hold it and do the circles with the end of his dock.  I really could not tell if they helped since he had the chiropractic work.  As an experiment, during my lesson, after backing up, I asked Debbie to do the tail circles just to see if they would make him less stiff walking off from the backing, but if anything Mick’s back took a little longer than usual to loosen up.

On Friday I got to talk with Mick’s owner’s grandmother.  She had not been too sure about Mick, thinking he might be too much horse for her granddaughter.  But during the clinic, going through a grid of jumps, his girl fell off and Mick stopped immediately, looked around to check on his girl, and stayed standing until she got back on.  Now Mick has a home for life.  I, of course, was gushing on how noble Mick is, how cooperative he is, and how he tries and tries and tries to do whatever his rider desires, and how he looks after me at least part of the time I am on his back.  Discussing my theory that Mick may have fallen badly when he was 3-day evented and wrenched his back, I said while Mick improved after his chiropractic sessions the good effects did not last.  I mentioned that there were other therapies that I was just not strong enough to do, but from what I’ve read that an equine osteopath might be able to help him in a more permanent manner.  In the meantime I will continue with the Ttouches, the one therapy that I am strong enough to do effectively.

I do wish I could to fix Mick’s back all on my own. 

On Friday I got to try the padded up Spirit Bridle on Mia.  We started out fine, she seemed somewhat less irritated with my hand aids and even took up contact voluntarily a few times and kept the contact until I released it.  When she trotted she inverted her head and neck but this time she was willing to respond to my subtle rein aids and bring her head and neck into a more proper alignment.  Mia’s old problem of the sun shining on the puddles dazzling her eyes came back and she started balking at the edges of the puddles.  I think that the sun’s reflection from the water literally blinds her when she looks straight ahead because she is quite capable of finding a way around the blinding light.  A few years ago I had fixed the problem by adding a Cashel noseband cushion to her bridle, but since I am padding the Spirit bridle’s noseband with a Cashel nose cushion now I will have to find another solution.  A sheepskin “shadow roll” like the one they use on race horses looks promising if I can find one.  I think as she has aged through the years the shape of her eyes has changed and the cushion under her noseband is just not enough to block the glare hitting the center of her vision anymore.

Anyway it took Mia twenty minutes to remember that she does not like bitless bridles and to start doing her actions of disapproval.  Since I had spent the whole ride making my hand aids a LOT lighter, and since the noseband cushions got the cheek-pieces of the bridle off of her cheeks just over her molars, I got the idea that this was more habit than irritation.  So the second time she plunged her head to the ground I caught her with one rein and gave her a little lecture on while it is all right to show her irritation when everything does not feel just right, but I had FIXED what was irritating her (the noseband being too harsh on her delicate face, the cheek-pieces on her molars, and my too demanding hands), and that she could quit doing her little demonstrations.  Amazingly after that little lecture the head evasions ended.  Of course I made good and sure that my hand aids were a little bit lighter, just tiny little  twitches of my fingers on sagging reins, and Mia got back to being cheerful, obeyed my hand aids promptly, and strode off on her wonderful walk.

Oh, if only all horse problems were as easy to fix!

And as I listen to all the melting snow dripping from my roof I just hope I can get my lesson in on Wednesday next week.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran





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